Summit declaration

Regional Climate Summit 2023

Preamble

Climate change is a formidable obstacle to sustainable development, and its impacts have the potential to negate the achievements made in advancing sustainable development goals. This summit, held at the Sheraton hotel of Dhaka, Bangladesh from 8 September to 10 September under the banner of Regional Climate Summit 2023, brought together stakeholders from diverse sectors and engaged in discussions that led to the identification of strategies, policies and collaborative initiatives necessary to address the challenges of climate change and sustainable development goals. We integrated the discussed issues and hereby, announce the following declaration.

Declaration

1. We acknowledge that climate change induced vulnerabilities directly impact our people, economies, and ecosystems, necessitating urgent action to enhance resilience and adapt to changing climatic conditions. We acknowledge that the impacts of climate change threaten the progress made in fulfilling our sustainable development goals. To effectively address this challenge, we recognize the importance of integrating adaptation and mitigation measures into holistic sustainable development initiatives and commit to rising above geopolitics in order to join hands and solve issues related to climate change.

2. Projections suggest that the South Asian economy could suffer a significant reduction of up to 9% annually by the end of this century due to climate change impacts. The financial toll could escalate further when accounting for damages from extreme weather events. We commit to take decisive action to ensure the economic stability and prosperity of the region.

3. We acknowledge the significance of the Paris Agreement in recognizing the crucial role of the ocean and ecosystem integrity in combating the adverse consequences of climate change and limiting global average temperature within 1.5 Degree Celsius. The South Asian region is particularly susceptible to climate change impacts, including floods, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification. We emphasize the need to prioritize the resilience and adaptation efforts of severely climate-affected countries and realize One Sun One World One Grid through interconnected grids, enabling all of us to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.

Environment and Climate Change

4. Air pollution and global warming should be addressed simultaneously. Recognizing the significant impacts of air pollution on human health and environment, we commit to develop strategies to reduce air pollutants and promote clean air initiatives. By fostering regional collaboration among stakeholders, we aim to improve air quality through and mitigate air pollution-related health risks in the region.

5. Recognizing the urgent need to address plastic pollution, we pledge to promote products which are durable, reusable, recyclable or compostable. By promoting circular business models and encouraging the adoption of sustainable alternatives, we aim to reduce plastic waste, conserve resources, and minimize carbon emissions associated with plastic production and disposal.

6. We pledge to enhance regional collaboration for the preservation of biodiversity in shared ecological frontiers, particularly in the Himalaya and the Sundarbans. Recognizing these regions’ ecological significance and vulnerability to climate change, we will work together to develop and implement policies that promote conservation and restoration of natural habitats. We will leverage the expertise and efforts of governments, civil society, private sector, and local communities to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem resilience with long term planning.

Water and Waste

7. Acknowledging the challenges posed by climate-induced water scarcity, as a result of disasters and hazards such as floods, and droughts, we will work to empower local governance, strengthen local institutions and enhance their capacity to manage water resources efficiently. We will ensure climate resilient Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) by promoting technologies and systems that promote safe drinking water and integrated solid waste management systems that protect water resources, improve environmental quality, and enhance community resilience. We acknowledge the importance of community engagement in the decision-making process and implementation level regarding sustainable water and waste management.

8. We recognize the interdependencies of water and sanitation, energy and food security and emphasize the importance of adopting a nexus approach to address trade-offs and enhance synergies among these sectors. Integrated planning, stakeholder participation, and policy coherence will be integral to our efforts in improving resource efficiency, reducing wastage, promoting innovation, and building adaptive capacity in the water, energy, and food sectors.

9. We emphasize on enhancing synergies by establishing common Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin Model, integrating flood forecasting warning systems, river-bank erosion, sediment management, water-use efficiency and ecosystem management. We also emphasize on revising existing water treaties to align with current circumstances and stress on regional cooperation on the moderation of floods and augmentation of dry-season flows.

10. We aspire to achieve green infrastructure and smart solutions for climate-responsive urban development such as advanced energy management and efficient border control with real-time flood prediction censors, and stress on integrating these suggestions into urban planning and development.

Future of Energy

11. We commit to reform the energy market to ensure Regional Power Market, Day Ahead Market, and Dynamic Pricing. We acknowledge the need to gradually phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels and reallocating these funds to finance renewable energy projects in order to move towards renewable energy sources. Hence, we emphasize on creating renewable based model villages/community and setting up national and regional Renewable Energy Innovation Lab (REIB). We recognize the importance of investment in sustainable construction of grid connection to reach in the most remote parts. We acknowledge the need to enable a policy for the Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (CPPA).

Regional Cooperation and regional climate fund

12. We commit to promoting regional cooperation in the energy sector, enhancing regional and national policies and regulatory frameworks to foster Cross-Border Electricity Trade (CBET), and facilitating the integration of renewable energy sources into electricity generation sector. By exploring regional market opportunities and fostering economic collaboration, we aim to create an investment-friendly environment that advances sustainable development while bolstering the resilience of our economies. We aim to promote active cooperation on financial, technical and  infrastructural development of CBET.

13. We call upon South Asian parliamentarians to establish an institutional framework for a sustained engagement on regional energy cooperation through a regional parliamentary forum.

14. We recognize the importance of green finance for sustainable development and work to mobilize the capital for low carbon climate-resilient development by creating innovative green markets and opportunities for investors and enterprises. We aspire to establish a South Asian Resilience Fund (SARF) to support adaptation projects in agriculture, WASH, livelihood resilience, clean energy, healthcare and green entrepreneurship. Also, we want to pursue multilateral grantbased financing instead of bilateral development loans.

15. We pledge to support green entrepreneurship as a vital driver of our energy transition. We recognize the potential of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship to develop and deploy clean energy technologies. Also, we will prioritize creating an enabling environment for research and development, providing green finance for startups and green skills for youth development, and promoting markets for green products. Also, we recognize the need to allocate 20% of climate fund for green entrepreneurship development along with tax rebate and zero vat for this sector.

Conclusion

16. We commit to mainstreaming gender and inclusivity while formulating and implementing policies regarding climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

17. We recognize that the adverse impacts of climate change will trigger out-migration from the most climate vulnerable regions and propose to establish climate sensitive social protection measures to smooth the migration process for climate migrants.

18. In conclusion, we, the participants of the Regional Climate Summit 2023, reaffirm our dedication to addressing the policy gap and commit to fostering partnerships and collaborations among policymakers, scientists, experts, and stakeholders to promote sustainable development in the South Asian countries. Through enhanced collaboration, innovative solutions, and collective efforts, we commit to creating a pathway towards a more sustainable, climate-resilient, and prosperous future for all.